A recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency article chronicled the difficulty some overseas students have finding a place to celebrate Passover in a foreign land. With their expatriate status already making them feel like outsiders, several students lamented the fact that they had not been contacted proactively by anyone in the local Jewish community. “If somebody here invited me, I would go to a seder,” one student commented.
While the experience of American students abroad will always be fraught with similar problems, the UJC is taking steps to ensure that no-one in the United States, at least, feels like an outsider this Passover. Anyone struggling to find a place to celebrate Passover this year now has an additional helpful resource, thanks to a recent UJC initiative. Each year, thousands of people find themselves in a strange city either due to work, school, or another outside influence, making a traditional family-driven Seder celebration all but impossible. To prevent anyone from having to forego a Seder entirely, however, the UJC has compiled a database of community Seders and home hospitalities.
This development shows that there are certainly those who take the concept of “welcoming the stranger” to heart. It is beneficial to have resources such as the UJC’s database so that those who are actively seeking a place to engage with the Jewish community can find welcoming sites to participate in their religion. Ideally, community organizations and others will take this welcoming even further, to proactively seek out and invite the unengaged to join in celebrations such as the Passover Seder, instead of waiting for potential participants to take the first step. The seder phrase “Let all who are hungry come and eat” is important to remember, but perhaps just as important is the concept of going out and finding those who are seeking (spiritual) nourishment and community.